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Science & Hi Tech: Japanese deep-diving submarine to target active undersea volcano

Posted on 19.02.2004 - 08:24 EST in SCIENCE & TECH NEWS by ginamc

Rons_ROV_Links writes:  

A Japanese submersible will later this year dive into a deep-sea volcano in a bid to uncover unknown biological life forms, the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS) said in a statement on Sunday.


The October dive on the Brothers volcano in the South Pacific, around 500 kilometres north-east of New Zealand's North Island, will be carried out by GNS and the Japan Marine Science and Technology Centre, which is providing the Shinkai 6500 submersible.

The volcano is 1,850 metres deep and extends a 700 metre thick plume of hot liquid which carries traces of gold, manganese, iron, zinc and copper.

GNS project leader Cornel de Ronde said studies from a surface ship in 1999 and 2001 showed Brothers had two distinct vent sites - one near the centre of its crater and the other on the crater wall.

"The chemistry of the hot fluids discharging from the two vents differs markedly. The advantage of Brothers volcano is that we can study two very different vent habitats inside the one volcano," Mr de Ronde said.

"The Shinkai 6500 will allow us to be very precise in our sampling of rocks, minerals, hydrothermal vent fluids, and vent-related organisms."

He said many of the organisms have not previously been studied.

Prior to exploring Brothers the Japanese submarine will dive on the volcano studded Lau Basin between Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

The three South Pacific nations are on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire" which is noted for severe volcanic and seismic activity.

Although large magnitude earthquakes are relatively common in the region, along with active volcanoes, the deep waters around the Kermadec Trench that runs north from here, means that until recently much of it was unnoticed.

February 15, 2004.

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Source: ABC NewsOnline
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